Feb 092012
 

I was in one of your dreams?
Yeah.
Can you deal with that?
Yeah.

  A brilliant recent exploration of the nature of dreams, and their paradoxical (non-) place in our living environment is Jeff Nichols’s film Take Shelter (2012). In it a married construction supervisor named Curtis has nightmarish dreams of storms, or of a fantastic catastrophe, and of people attacking him.  These dreams tell of lurking dangers in the present and of a coming ecological reckoning.  The dreamer reacts by two contradictory sets of actions: one, he prepares for the imminent danger, and tears himself away from those who threaten him in his dreams, digs a hole in the ground, builds up his storm shelter.  And, two, in the same responsive manner, consults a number of health professionals to confirm his possible paranoid schizophrenia and his greatest fear: to be put away, to be removed from his family, like his own mother was.  The brilliance of the film comes from that uncomfortable co-existence of mutually exclusive elements. 

 Curtis to his family doctor: A couple of days ago I had a dream that my dog attacked me and it took the whole day for the pain in my arm to go away.

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Jan 272012
 

© Warner Brothers 2012

During an evening out at the club, J. Edgar Hoover suddenly urges his friend and lover Clyde Tolson to leave in a hurry. They just came from a movie that was of important symbolic value:  Hollywood had eventually shifted from the sympathetic gangster hero to the heroic police officer. Hoover feels so gratified by what he considers to be a public recognition of his work that during the ride home, he holds his lover’s hand. The gesture has a slight scent of provocation since his mother, Anne, sitting in front of the car, could not but notice. And she would pay him back for this daring move soon enough.


That evening though, nothing seemed to stop J. Edgar. At first, at least. After dropping his mother off, he and Clyde continue to their club, where they get to sit at a table with three beautiful, admiring actresses. Here we see the new hero of the Bureau of Investigation, inspiring comic strips and now movies,  bragging about some incredibly important secrets he cannot reveal. Young, radiating, gorgeous Hoover seems overspilling with power, wits and overall success. Until one of the actresses, trying to get beyond sitting and listening, first invites and then urges him to dance. At this point J. Edgar loses it.

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Jan 182012
 

I found the film very interesting. It is a pity Cronenberg didn’t show Jung 20cms taller than Freud, which he actually was, neither Jung picking Freud from the ground in his arms.

The only way a think the question of Jung’s reasons for him to “fall for Sabina Spielrein” is pertinent is that the actress is not a tenth as beautiful as Sabina was, neither does she look slightly as intelligent as Sabina was. I tried to find Sabina’s photo on the cloud, but I couldn’t. A pity. It is very difficult to resist a beautiful and intelligent woman and seductive woman who decides to seduce. And Jung was not a fortress. On the contrary ! He needed two women in his life. Emma Jung was not only a rich bourgeois. Some letters of hers to Freud really show an intelligent woman, really caring for Jung. Neither Jung has a “nervous breakdown”. He went fully through an schizophrenic crises. Try to read his Red Book! Its worst than Schreber’s.

There is another sad thing : it seems that Cronenberg needs strong scenes to try to suggest Sabina was a masochist. When we read her hospital files, we see that her masochism was quite different than what Cronenberg suggests. To have her hands gently squeezed would be perceived by her as an intense pain. She would have delusions of being forced to something she hated. But I don’t think she would have needed to be spanked. If she could ask for being spanked, she would not have been a psychotic.

I agree that Sabina was the motor in their history. Carotenutto and other have written a beautiful book, a documentary about this affair. There is no hint of Freud ever thinking about a death drive before Sabina’s paper on “Destruction as Cause…” But this was Freud’s style : “You have a very good idea, I have had it before, thank you for developping it.” Or “You had a very good idea, but you missed the core of the problem. Here it is.”

Just a last word: the final discussion about Amenophis in fact was an argument between Freud and Abraham.

But all in all, it seems to me it is a very good film. The supposed erotic scenes are useless. Of course Sabina was masochist. If she had not been a masochist, she would never get attached to Jung. But nothing proves she could make her masochism erogenous.


Jan 072012
 

True to historic facts, Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method holds some interesting surprises – naturally, considering the director and the actors’ work on the subtlest staging details. (See the Cronenberg interview).
Some of those details lie on the more comical side, such as Freud’s character.
So far I had imagined Freud in different ways, but the idea of a Viennese cigar-munching Godfather had not occurred to me. Cronenberg’s Freud comes across as a slow talking, sometimes cynical, sometimes despicable plotter of institutional schemes. A hard-nosed professional subversive who seems impressed only by the ever-growing anti-semitism that besieges him and his new science. And when Jung finally falls out of favour, the only sense that comes to Freud’s mind is his designated successor’s “Aryanism”.
With Spielrein and Jung’s respective characters, things immediately seem to run deeper. The first time we see Spielrein, she’s literally howling mad. But she seems to get better with an astonishing speed, each and every time Jung addresses her like a normal human being. One can only imagine what it must have been like in the asylums of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But Bleuler and Jung’s Burghölzli looks very much like the Anti-Psychiatrist‘s dream. Patients, not inmates, are being cared for, offered interesting humane work and most of all are treated like fully responsible grown-ups. In this utopian castle, Spielrein not only turns out to be the gifted psychologist that Jung suspected right away, but she also learns how to accept and enjoy her sexual fantasies. Although, with some practical help of her therapist, who does not show the same ease towards his own fantasies.
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